Import trade compliance is often forgotten during yearly organizational strategy sessions. But it is a vital element of global trade management and has taken on heightened importance during the COVID-19 pandemic and its widespread disruption of global supply chain patterns.
This year, importers face a host of daunting trade compliance challenges.
Governments have begun to ramp up enforcement actions on trade compliance and are placing a renewed emphasis on regulatory compliance.
Trade conflicts, retaliatory tariffs and unilateral actions like BREXIT complicate the trade landscape.
Meanwhile, there’s an increasing focus by investors, corporate boards and other stakeholders on the importance of ESG (environmental sustainability, social responsibility and governance). That has placed a spotlight on issues like forced labor compliance and carbon-neutral supply chain operations.
It’s no wonder that investment in global trade compliance is expected to grow from an estimated $665M in 2019 to $1.034M in 2022, reflecting new spending on staff, technology and third-party consultants to help navigate a complicated landscape.
As you prepare your company for a successful 2022, let’s look at some key import trade compliance challenges and opportunities that will take center stage this year. Keep these on your radar as you prepare for the new year.
The new World Customs Organization Harmonized Codes (HS Codes) for 2022: Assess the changes and their impact on you
The World Customs Organization’s update to the harmonized tariff schedules should be a priority for every importer. Updates occur every five years and this latest one takes effect in 2022. Importers should review the changes to ensure they are using the correct tariff number and accurately classifying their merchandise. While changes to the HS schedule in the US are supposed to be tariff neutral, some experts are reporting substantial duty increases for some products, making it mission critical to carefully assess your products for any deviations. This global HS Code update affects all importers – no matter their location or areas of operation. Importers should reach out to their service provider or customs broker to help study these changes.
Forced labor: Does your organization comply with all new global standards, including the latest legislation in the US?
Be aware of new and existing regulations related to forced labor and how they impact imports to ensure you are compliant. In the US, for instance, if your product is found to be made with forced labor, then your import can be subject to hold or seizure. The European community and Canada have similar standards. Most recently, the US passed the Uyghur Forced Labor Act, which bans imports from the Xinjiang Province in China (where forced labor of the Uyghur population is alleged to be widespread) unless an importer can prove forced labor was not used. Increasingly, import trade compliance requires tracing the product through all component suppliers to validate that no forced labor was involved in the sourcing or making of the product or its component materials.
US/China trade policy: Watch this topic carefully as US midterm elections approach
In 2022, we may see various actions related to section 301 duties from the Biden Administration. Section 301 duties include the retaliatory tariffs implemented by the Trump Administration toward Chinese products. An exclusion process previously allowed companies to apply for waivers on the duties for various reasons, such as if their product could not be sourced in the US. The exclusion process expired, but many of the duties remain. Many expect the exclusions could reopen, while additional section 301 duties also could emerge if trade talks between the countries are not successful. Check out our eBook on Mastering China Logistics.
Get ready for US Customs and Border Protection’s proposed continuing education requirement for licensed brokers
For years, customs brokers only needed to acquire their license to hold onto it. However, a new proposed continuing education requirement will mean brokers need to participate in educational activities designed to help them stay up to date on changes that are happening in their industry. Under the proposal, various trade associations and other organizations will offer the courses, seminars and webinars to provide brokers with the credits they need to earn each year to maintain their license. The new requirement is in the final rulemaking stage and guidelines for the new requirement will likely be published in early 2022. You can learn more from the US Federal Register.
Watch for changes in the US/EU trade landscape and position your business as needed
The US and the European Union reached an agreement a few months ago through which the US lifted some tariffs on steel and aluminum imports and the EU dropped their retaliatory tariffs on various US products, including Harley-Davidson motorcycles and bourbon from Kentucky. Talks between the sides are ongoing, however, on aluminum and steel quotas, digital taxes on Big Tech companies and a post-BREXIT deal with the UK.
Canada’s new CARM system for imports into Canada: Be sure your company is registered for your imports into Canada
Canada’s new CARM system transforms the way Canada’s Border Services Agency (CBSA) collects duties and taxes. All Canadian importers are required to register in the system, which serves as a way to track duties and taxes, to pay bills, and to communicate with Canadian Customs. It’s critically important that all entities importing into Canada be registered in CARM to continue regular operations.
Monitor US CBP priority trade issues for 2022
The following will continue to be CBP’s priority trade issues in the new year: Agriculture and Quota, Antidumping and Countervailing Duty, Import Safety, Intellectual Property Rights, Revenue, Textiles and Wearing Apparel, and Trade Agreements. Be sure your import trade compliance and audit process mitigates risk in these areas, and be prepared for extra enforcement attention from CBP on these issues.
US CBP’s 21st Century Customs Framework: A major new development
This new framework will mark the most significant change to trading rules for imports into the US since the Customs Modernization Act in 1993.
It’s essential to track proposed changes and their effects on your business, especially as action in the US Congress appears to be taking a decidedly enforcement-based direction. The timing around the framework remains uncertain, but a lot of attention and activity has turned to it. As currently drafted in Congress, proposals would place additional burdens on importers and increase fines and penalties. To learn more, importers can visit the CBP website and consult with their trade associations.
The landscape related to ecommerce and deMinimus imports is changing rapidly
Be sure your company is leveraging opportunities in this space and mitigating risk. The future is somewhat uncertain. Lobbying and debate at the congressional level has suggested a range of possible changes that could particularly impact ecommerce companies, and any company or individual importing goods under the existing $800 threshold in the US. Keep an eye on developments and be prepared to adjust import trade compliance strategies – changes could bring new challenges or fresh opportunities.
A proactive approach is key
Companies must continually review import trade compliance programs to be ready for the future, particularly with so many changes under consideration in 2022. Even if you have a solid compliance program today, strategies and policies may need to be updated. An experienced customs broker can help.
If you have questions or concerns about these or other trade compliance topics for 2022, contact Dimerco today to start a discussion.